Michigan Businesses a Key Player in the Olympics

By Josh Paciorek | February 13, 2014

Sochi 2014

While you’re watching the 2014 Winter Olympics, keep an eye out for the “Made in Michigan” label.  Four local small businesses are making a big impact in Sochi, and that’s something Gov. Rick Snyder says we should all be proud of. 

“‘Made in Michigan’ means something. Across the nation and around the world, that label has long meant strength, durability and quality,” Gov. Snyder wrote in a column for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “It also reflects the pride of a resilient people who helped build this country and now are at the center of a reinvention that will restore our state to greatness.”

A Port Huron business, Warwick Mask, built the mask for U.S. men’s hockey goalie Ryan Miller, and Bishop Designs of Grand Blanc painted it.  Bishop Designs also painted two more masks, one for U.S. goalie Jimmy Howard and another for U.S. women’s goalie Brianne McLaughlin.

“To see it on a global scale, it’s mind-boggling,” Bishop Designs’ Ray Bishop told the Lansing State Journal. “It makes you feel good, and it’s kind of hard to comprehend sometimes. I’m not Mr. Big Stuff or anything like that, but I am very blessed, very honored to be able to do it.”

Another company representing Michigan in Russia is Stonehedge Fiber Mill in East Jordan, MI.  Deb and Chuck McDermott were responsible for supplying Ralph Lauren with more than 4,000 pounds of their unique Shepherd’s Wool yarn.  Ralph Lauren used that yarn to knit the sweaters Team USA wore in the opening ceremony. 

"It was very exciting to know that the yarn would be made into sweaters that would be worn by the U.S. athletes at the Olympics," Chuck McDermott said while speaking with the Petoskey News.

And when the Olympics needed someone to produce more snow for their events, they called on SMI-Snow Makers, owned by President Joe VanderKelen.  The Midland-based company also partnered to design the Rosa Khutor Ski Resort, the site of the alpine, snowboard, freestyle and cross country competitions.

“We’re thrilled to be a small part of the success of the Olympics and prepare with our partners for the success of the competitions,” VanderKelen told MLive.
Before Michigan’s athletes left for the Olympics, Gov. Snyder issued a special tribute recognizing their talents and wishing them all the best in Sochi.

“To qualify for and participate in the Olympics is truly an honor, and you, your family, friends, and coaches ought to be proud of this accomplishment,” the governor said.  “As you prepare to begin this exciting journey, know that the people of Michigan are proud to have you representing our state.”